The Reagan Administration, while asking for almost three times more money for its “Star Wars” space defense program this year, has spent only 2.5% of the funds appropriated for the program last year, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The finding, which the CBO reported to the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week, is expected to provide foes of the controversial program with ammunition in their attempt to slash the Administration’s request of $3.7 billion for fiscal 1986.
Opponents will argue that, at a time when fiscal restraint is needed to reduce the huge federal budget deficit, “Star Wars” should be a prime target because so little of the money already appropriated has been spent, Rep. Norman D. Dicks (D-Wash.) said in an interview.
$34.5 Million Spent
Congress voted almost $1.4 billion last year for the program, formally known as the Strategic Defense Initiative, which seeks ways to build a shield in space against nuclear warheads. Of this, $34.5 million--or 2.5%--had been spent as of Feb. 28, five months into the 1985 fiscal year, the budget office reported.
In contrast, CBO Director Rudolph G. Penner said in a covering letter that, historically, 48% of Pentagon expenditures for research, development, testing and evaluation has been spent in the first year after appropriation.
In another development, the “Star Wars” program was attacked Monday for letting contracts to assess the feasibility of the concept to those corporations that have the most to gain from eventual deployment of the scheme.
‘Great Pork Barrel’
The Council on Economic Priorities reported that the program is already “rife with potential conflict of interests.” And Paul C. Warnke, a key arms negotiator in the Jimmy Carter Administration, said in a forward to the council’s report that “Star Wars” has been rapidly converted “from stardust and moonbeams to that great pork barrel in the sky.”
The council said that 90% of “Star Wars” prime contracts in fiscal 1983 and 1984 went to four states: California (45%), Washington (22%), Texas (13%) and Alabama (10%).
The top 10 “space weapons contractors,” the council said, received 87% of the awards. The leader was the Boeing Co., with 22.4%, followed by Lockheed, McDonnell Douglas, Teledyne, LTV, Rockwell International, TRW, Hughes, Avco and Litton, according to the report.